Capitalismo y Economía es Stock market tanks <p>San José, CA - On Wednesday, August 14, the U.S. stock market tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 800 points, or 3%. The technology-heavy NASDAQ index also fell 3% and the S&amp;P 500 fell just shy of 3%. This is the third day in a row of major market moves: Down more than 450 points on Monday, up 375 points on Tuesday, and now down again.</p> <p>The Monday move came on because of growing recession fears, but the stock market bounced back on Tuesday, when Trump announced that he was postponing the 10% tariff on imports from China on more than half of the goods originally scheduled to be tariffed September 1. The postponement came on cell phone, computers, toys and other goods that make up more than 75% of U.S. imports that come from China, as well as baby supplies deemed necessary. However more than $100 billion in imports from China are still on track to face tariffs next month. These are mainly consumer goods, with women and girls clothing among the hardest hit.</p> <p>While Trump tries to come off as a tough guy and hard negotiator, the fact of the matter is that he blinked in the face of Chinese resistance. Trump also admitted for the first time that U.S. consumers would be hit, whereas before he maintained that China was paying the tariffs. The postponement allows stores to stock up for their holiday sales without paying the tariffs.</p> <p>But despite the relief rally on Tuesday, on Wednesday things went from bad to worse. First came disappointing economic reports from China. Over the last ten years China has made a lot of progress in bringing down its overall trade surplus (selling more exports than it imports). By ramping up its imports, the Chinese economy has become ever more important to other countries’ economies, including for example, U.S. farm exports. While its economic growth is still awesome by any other large economy’s standards (still about 6% as compared to 2 to 3% in the United States and even less in Europe and Japan), any slowdown in Chinese economic growth will affect other countries.</p> <p>Then, as the world turned, there came a report out of Germany that their Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or the total production of final goods and services) actually contracted by a small amount in the second quarter of this year. Germany has the largest economy in Europe and is the fifth largest in the world. Germany is also the world’s third largest importer of goods and services, so like China, any slowdown will impact other countries.</p> <p>Then when financial markets opened in the United States, interest rates on the ten-year U.S. Treasury Bonds briefly fell below the interest rate on the two-year bond. This was another ‘inversion’ of the bond interest rate yield curve, where typically higher long term interest rates fall below shorter term ones, indicating the economy will be much worse in the future. It is seen as one of the strongest financial market warnings of a coming recession.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Asia China Donald Trump Internacional stock crash stock market trade war U.S. Thu, 15 Aug 2019 01:17:11 +0000 Fight Back 7559 at U.S. stock market keeps dropping <p>San José, CA - U.S. stocks fell again on Monday, August 12 as growing recession worries were added to ongoing concern about the direction of Trump’s trade war with China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 400 points, or 1.5%, while the broader markets fell by smaller percentages of about 1.2%. </p> <p>Bank of America raised the risk of recession in the next year to one in three, while U.S. bond interest rates continued to fall. The ten-year U.S. Treasury Bond interest rate fell again to about 1.5%. Lower bond interest rates show that investors expect economic growth to slow at best, and the economy to fall into recession at worst. The so-called ‘inverted yield curve,’ where long-term interest rates on bonds fall below shorter-term interest rates continue to flash a warning of a coming recession.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Asia China Donald Trump Internacional stock crash stocks trade war U.S. Tue, 13 Aug 2019 21:12:11 +0000 Fight Back 7557 at China’s response to Trump’s new tariff threat panics stock market <p>San José, CA - On Monday, August 5, China replied to Trump’s new tariff threat by calling off the purchases of U.S. agricultural products and weakening government support for the RMB, China’s currency. In response the RMB fell to 14 U.S. cents, meaning it will take slightly more than 7 RMB to buy one U.S. dollar. Soybean prices also fell, as China is the largest foreign buyer of U.S. soybeans.</p> <p>The lower value, or depreciation, of the RMB will partially offset the impact of Trump’s new tariffs, or tax, of 10% on all remaining U.S. imports of goods from China. These tariffs, which include many consumer goods such as cell phones and other consumer electronics, baby items and toys that were not covered by Trump’s earlier tariffs. This tax is paid by U.S. importers and will be passed on to consumers.</p> <p>The price drop in soybeans and other agricultural products such as cotton, where China is a major importer, will hit U.S. farmers already suffering from historic flooding driven by climate change. While the Trump administration is paying out billions to make up some of these losses, it does not cover the total cost to farmers.</p> <p>Stock markets in the United States fell the most in one day this year, extending their losing streak to six business days. Hardest hit was the technology corporation-filled NASDAQ index, which fell more than 3%. Technology companies are deeply involved in trade with China, both importing and exporting. The headline Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 3%, or more than 750 points, while the broader S&amp;P 500 Index also fell almost 3%. Stock investors feared that the escalating trade war would hurt economic growth and thus corporate profits and stock prices.</p> <p>The growing fear of recession boosted the buying of bonds, which provide a fixed interest payment. Bond prices went up, driving the interest rate on the benchmark ten-year U.S. Treasury bond down to 1.75%. Just a year ago the interest rate on ten-year treasury bonds was over 3%. This means that longer-term bond rates are significantly lower than short term (six months or less) bond interest rates, which are near 2%. This so-called “inverted yield curve” is one of the best financial predictors of a coming recession.</p> <p>The fear of recession slammed stock markets around the world, with most markets falling more than one and a half percent from Japan to Germany. Fear of a slowing economy also hit oil prices, which fell about one and a half percent.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Socialism Asia Asiaticos China China Donald Trump Internacional stock market trade war Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Mon, 05 Aug 2019 21:52:02 +0000 Fight Back 7543 at Trump escalates trade war with China <p>San José, CA - On Thursday, July 31, President Trump tweeted that he would be imposing new tariffs, or taxes, on the $300 billion of Chinese goods not covered by his 25% tariffs. U.S. stocks took an immediate dive, giving up all of their 300-point gain to drop 280 points for the day. They continued to fall on Friday, leading to the worst week for U.S. stocks all year.</p> <p>Despite what Trump says, tariffs are taxes that are paid by U.S. importers. Up to now, most of the Chinese goods placed under heavy tariffs have not been consumer goods. But the new tariffs mainly hit consumer goods such as cell phones, consumer electronics, toys, and baby supplies. U.S. workers could see higher prices going into the upcoming holiday season.</p> <p>Trump also claims that his goal is to bring down the U.S. trade deficit, where the U.S. imports more goods and services than it exports to other countries. But despite his tariffs, the U.S. trade deficit grew to a record dollar amount last year, as other countries fought back and retaliated against U.S. exports.</p> <p>The U.S. and China had just met to discuss the trade war and had agreed to meet again in mid-September. By placing tariffs on even more Chinese goods, Trump is trying to bully China into changing its socialist economy. While his bullying tactics can work with smaller economies like Mexico and Guatemala, China is the world’s second largest economy and has had an independent leadership since the Chinese revolution in 1949.</p> <p>The new Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said, “China’s position is very clear that if the U.S. wishes to talk, then we will talk, if they want to fight, then we will fight.” With the Chinese leadership beginning a two-week annual policy conference, their specific response may take a few weeks. But the trade war is likely to get worse in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Trump’s trade war is just one of the factors weighing on the world capitalist economy. The European economy is already in the doldrums, and worries are growing about the impact of a no-deal Brexit in October. The Japanese economy is also slow, and Japan has copied Trump by restricting exports of chemicals used in making semiconductors under the guise of “national security”. Here in the United States, business investment and construction are slowing, one of the most sure-fire warnings that a recession is on the way. While the U.S. economy is relatively strong, with low unemployment, it is harder and harder to see how it can continue to grow with one problem after another cropping up.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Socialism Asia China Donald Trump Internacional tariffs trade war Trump China Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Sat, 03 Aug 2019 22:08:19 +0000 Fight Back 7536 at More cracks showing in U.S. economic expansion <p>San José, CA - More cracks showed up in the U.S. economic expansion as the May employment report saw a gain of only 75,000 net new jobs, less than half what most economists expected. In addition, the Labor Department revised the job creation numbers down by 75,000 for March and April. Over the last four months the economy has added new jobs at a rate of 130,000 per month, much less than the 223,000 new jobs added each month on average in 2018.</p> <p>In addition to the weak jobs report, workers’ average hourly earnings gained only 3.1% over the last year, a slower rate that in April and March. Manufacturing worker jobs have gained only 5000 over the last three months as slowing car sales as well as Trump’s trade war weighed on factories. Gains in construction jobs also weakened, with a small gain of 4000 new jobs, despite lower mortgage interest rates that were expected to boost housing sales and construction.</p> <p>More indications of a weaker economy also boosted the bond market. Demand for bonds, which is how governments and big businesses borrow, usually grows when more signs of a recession appear. As bond prices rose, interest rates fell again, maintaining the so-called ‘inverted yield curve’, where interest rates on longer-term bonds (typically those due in ten years) are less than interest rates on shorter-term bonds (such as 30 to 90 days). Typically, the interest rates on longer-term bonds are higher than shorter-term bonds because of greater chances of inflation. The inverted yield curve is one of the surest financial market signs of an oncoming recession.</p> <p>There were also growing expectations that the Federal Reserve Bank will cut interest rates, perhaps as much as a half percentage point, this month or next month. This continued the party on Wall Street as stocks markets gained across the board on the hope that lower interest rates will boost profits for heavily indebted corporations. The fact that stock markets rose on signs of a weaker economy is just another example that stocks don’t represent the economy.</p> <p>The stock market rally may prove to be a short-sighted view on the part of wealthy investors, as the last two times that the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, a recession began within three months in both 2001 and 2007. In both cases stocks ended lower a year after the first cut, as the growing recessions took its toll on corporate profits.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía economy Mon, 10 Jun 2019 19:32:44 +0000 Fight Back 7475 at Witness to attempted U.S.-orchestrated Venezuela coup speaks in Minneapolis <p>Minneapolis, MN - “The area we were in was an opposition neighborhood, but nobody’s leaving their houses. The news in the U.S. is saying people are flocking to the streets because they’re ‘being liberated’, but no one’s leaving their houses. It was so untrue it was shocking,” said Tracy Molm, to about 40 community members gathered to hear her firsthand account of the events of April 30 in Caracas, Venezuela.</p> <p>That day saw unelected presidential pretender Juan Guaido appear outside an airbase in Caracas, claiming a military uprising to oust elected President Nicolás Maduro was about to take place. Despite heavy promotion by the U.S. State Department and much of the media, no uprising occurred. By the end of the day, its handful of participants had fled to the diplomatic compounds of Spain and Brazil.</p> <p>Molm explained, “We had been there for a day and a half. Tuesday morning, we wake up, and we’re a mile and a half from it, witnessing nothing. We hear people banging pots, but nobody leaves their houses.”</p> <p>Instead, Molm described seeing tens of thousands of Venezuelans flock to the seat of the presidency at the Miraflores Palace to defend President Maduro. “The vice president called for the people of Venezuela, the workers of Venezuela, to be in the streets and to defend their president. That’s what we saw,” she said. </p> <p>Molm, a member of the Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee, was in Venezuela with a delegation of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). Her report-back event in Minneapolis, which featured a slideshow of photos and an extensive Q&amp;A, took place on May 18.</p> <p>“It’s really important to start with the history of Venezuela, one of the things that’s really missing from the conversation that people get in the news,” she began. “In 1499, Venezuela was invaded by the Spanish, colonized, and they created a monocrop slave state. A lot of the issues that Venezuela is grappling with are basically rooted in being a colonized country, with very little infrastructure, and a single export that they were reliant on.”</p> <p>“Hugo Chávez and Simon Bolivar are really thought of as liberators of this country that was ravaged by colonization, and then by neo-colonial policies,” explained Molm. “When Chávez was elected, Venezuela was considered one of the most unequal countries in Latin America. Now it’s considered one of the most equal societies. That makes a big impression on people.”</p> <p>Molm showed the audience photos of banners that anti-imperialist student groups displayed around Caracas on April 30 in response to Guaido’s failed putsch. “The coup attempt happened really early in the morning. Before 9:30, they’ve got banners up,” she said. “People are ready to fight, ready to be in the streets to defend their government.” </p> <p>The following day, May 1, the delegation attended a mass rally commemorating International Workers Day, a national holiday in Venezuela. Over 400,000 people attended, many alongside their labor unions, to hear President Maduro speak. “Every time we saw something anti-Trump, people were like, ‘come take pictures with us!’ It was great,” Molm said.</p> <p>Molm also addressed the widespread reports of food shortages in Venezuela, saying, “There’s a lot of food production, and one of the things that they’re working really hard to do is understand where food is being produced, and where it’s going. Because they’ve had all these initiatives that include urban farming and taking back productive parts of the land around the country, so that people can be producing food - and not relying on big businesses that shutter their doors because they decide they’re not making enough profit.”</p> <p>Despite the challenges, Molm reported that food was still widely available. The delegation witnessed many boxes of free food assembled by the Local Committees for Supply and Production - known by their Spanish-language acronym, CLAP - being distributed around Caracas.</p> <p>The delegation and met with revolutionary leaders to learn about popular struggles to bring about social equality in Venezuela. </p> <p>“Venezuela is not currently a socialist country. Their leaders, including Maduro, believe that’s the direction they want to bring their society,” Molm explained. “They want to fundamentally change their government to be about people, to be about fulfilling people’s needs, and not about profit.”</p> <p>In particular, Molm recounted the delegation’s tour of new public housing built as part of the Gran Misión Vivienda, an initiative of Hugo Chávez that has led to 2.6 million high-quality homes being built over eight years. “People pay what they can. If you can pay, say, the equivalent of $100 dollars in rent, that’s what you pay. If you can’t, you pay less,” Molm explained. “It makes you realize how far away from that we are in the US, when people are getting evicted on a daily basis because they can’t afford rent.”</p> <p>“There are almost no people living on the streets in Venezuela,” she added. Privatization of the homes built under the Gran Misión Vivienda, along with the nationalized oil funding it, has long been a stated objective of the Venezuelan opposition now led by Guaido. Last week, it was revealed that Guaido, in the aftermath of the attempted coup’s failure to garner mass support, was formally requesting U.S. military backing for the overthrow of President Maduro.</p> <p>“People are very clear in Venezuela. They know who the enemy is,” Molm concluded. “They know who is instigating the attacks. They know who is trying to destabilize their country.”</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Socialism Antiwar Movement Américas Coup Internacional Maduro Trump Venezuela Venezuela Wed, 22 May 2019 16:46:02 +0000 Fight Back 7453 at Stocks fall as Trump threatens to reignite trade war <p>San José, CA - On Tuesday, May 7, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell almost 500 points, or close to 2%. This came following President Trump’s tweets on Sunday threatening to escalate the trade war with China on Friday if he couldn’t get a trade agreement done. While the U.S. stock market largely shrugged off this news on Monday, statements by his economic advisors convinced investors that his threats are for real.</p> <p>Trump threatened to raise the 10% tariffs, or taxes, to 25%, on about half of goods imported from China. In addition, he threatened to place 25% tariffs on almost all other Chinese-made goods coming to this country. These new tariffs cover a wide variety of consumer goods such as cell phones that escaped his first round of tariffs.</p> <p>Despite the Trump administration’s growing use of tariffs, starting with washing machines and solar panels, then going to aluminum and steel, and finally on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, the U.S. trade deficit actually grew last year. Perhaps frustrated by the failure of his policies to boost U.S. trade, Trump is threatening to escalate the trade war with China and is also laying the groundwork for tariffs on imported cars. The Trump administration is seeking to label imported cars a ‘national security’ threat, despite the fact that they are almost all from Canada, Mexico, Germany and Japan.</p> <p>U.S. companies have mainly reacted by raising prices, not by increasing production. After the 25% tariff on washing machines, prices on both washing machines and dryers (which were not subject to tariffs but which are often sold with a washing machine) both have gone up about 12%. In the case of steel, the 25% tariffs were almost matched by a 22% rise in the price of steel. While this has fattened corporate profits, it has not benefited workers.</p> <p>Other businesses are bracing for possible retaliation if Trump goes ahead with tariffs on more Chinese goods or on cars. After the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods, U.S. exports of soybeans to China, which was almost half of U.S. production, fell to almost zero last year. While almost no cars are imported from China (GM imports a small number of smaller SUVs that it makes in China), a good number of car parts are, which will increase the cost of making trucks and SUVs in the United States.</p> <p>Like white supremacists who promote the idea that whites are ‘victims’ of Black people, Mexican immigrants and Central American refugees, Trump promotes the idea that the United States is victimized by other countries. Given that the U.S. is still the world’s largest economy and has dominated the economies of many other countries for years, the idea is ridiculous, but it helps to whip up racist fears.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Donald Trump economy tariffs trade war Trabajadores y globalización Nacionalidades Oprimidas U.S. Thu, 09 May 2019 01:19:17 +0000 Fight Back 7429 at Government report indicates signs of weakness in economy <p>San José, CA - On Friday, April 26, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) issued its first report on economic growth in 2019. The country’s Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, which measures the total production of goods and services, grew at a 3.2% annual rate during the first three months of the year (January to March). This was stronger than most economists expected.</p> <p>But much of the growth was made up of one-time events, and inside the report there were continuing signs of economic weakness. The biggest contributor to growth was a large drop in imports. During the second half of 2018 many companies pushed forward their imports out of a fear of an escalating trade war with China. But with Trump calling off his original pledge to raise tariffs on Chinese goods even more and ongoing trade talks continuing, these companies cut back on imports. This drop in imports boosted the GDP report as imports are subtracted from the final number and is unlikely to continue in the future.</p> <p>The second biggest factor was a large jump in spending by state and local governments on capital projects such as buildings, roads and bridges. This increase is unlikely to be sustained as these projects take a long time to complete and there would have to be an ever-increasing number of projects started to keep this rising. So this was probably another one-time factor.</p> <p>The third biggest factor was a large jump in inventories. As GDP counts production, if goods are made but sit unsold on store shelves, it counts as economic growth. This is a potential sign of economic weakness if consumers are not buying all of what businesses produce, and could lead to production and job cuts in the future.</p> <p>Not counting the impact of changes in trade, government spending, and inventories, total private sales grew at a 1.3% rate, only half that of the last three months of 2018. Based on this, most economists expect economic growth to slow for the rest of the year.</p> <p>Trump and the Republicans in Congress claimed that their 2017 corporate tax cut would lead businesses to increase spending on new plant and equipment, creating more jobs. Business investment did increase at a strong rate in the first six months of 2018, but since then it has slowed. This part of GDP grew at only half the rate of previous quarter (October to December of 2018), a sign of a slowdown.</p> <p>Another sign of economic weakness was the continuing fall in the construction of new homes, apartment buildings and other residences. This part of GDP has fallen for five quarters back-to-back, and together with business investment, dragged down ‘fixed investment’ to less than two-tenths of one percent, barely above zero. Weakness in business investment or housing construction is what can pull the economy into a recession if their fall is big enough and lasts long enough to pull the rest of the economy down with them.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Capitalism China economy Trump Sat, 27 Apr 2019 16:15:03 +0000 Fight Back 7391 at Social Security report leads to more calls for cuts <p>San José, CA - On April 21, the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare released their annual report. The report includes a projection that the Social Security benefits will be greater than income next year for the first time since 1982. The Social Security trust fund, which has grown to almost $3 trillion, will start to be tapped for the first time.</p> <p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> said that Social Security and Medicare “have contributed to larger deficits set to exceed $1 trillion in 2020.” This is the big lie promoted by Wall Street billionaires to try to get cuts in Social Security benefits. For more than 30 years, Social Security has brought in more than it spent, which has led to the large trust fund. In fact, Social Security has run a surplus, and made the federal government deficit smaller than it otherwise would have been.</p> <p>The Trump administration has already broken its campaign promise to not cut Social Security or Medicare; its budget proposal has $900 billion in cuts to these two programs over the next ten years.</p> <p>What none of the major or corporate newspapers mention is what happened the last time Social Security had a shortfall in the 1980s. There was no trust fund then, so the government borrowed money until it worked out a plan to raise the Social Security tax rate on workers from 5.4% to 6.2% - a 0.8% increase that was matched by employers. Today a similar tax rate increase of 1.1%, or $11 on every $1000 of income, would do the trick.</p> <p>This tax increase could be even smaller if the Social Security tax were made fairer. Right now, it is a regressive tax, that is, a tax that falls more heavily on lower-income taxpayers. The Social Security tax also only covers wages and salaries up to $128,400. So one way to make the Social Security tax more fair would be to lift the cap so all wages and salaries are taxed. Medicare already does this.</p> <p>Another way would be to have Social Security tax all other forms of income that are not currently taxed. This is would include interest, corporate dividends, business profits, rental income, or capital gains from sales of stock that mainly go to high income individuals.</p> <p>Either of these would reduce the need to increase the Social Security tax rate, and doing both might eliminate the need to raise the tax rate at all.</p> <p>Last but not least, the projected end of the Social Security trust fund is because the trustees expect immigration to fall in the coming years. While this is what Trump and the Republicans want, increasing immigration would help overcome the funding issue, as immigrants tend to pay more in Social Security taxes than they receive in benefits.</p> <p>Working people who rely the most on Social Security for their retirement and disability need to expose the lies of Wall Street and the politicians, including some Democrats. We need to fight any and all efforts to cut benefits. We also need to fight efforts to privatize Social Security, which would hand our retirement savings over to Wall Street.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía austerity Donald Trump Medicare Social Security Poor People's Movements U.S. Wed, 24 Apr 2019 18:41:13 +0000 Fight Back 7387 at It’s Lenin’s birthday, and here is what he had to say <p>To mark the April 22, 1870 birthday of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Fight Back News Service is circulating the following excerpt from his 1918 book, <em>The State and Revolution.</em></p> <p>The “Withering Away” of the State, and Violent Revolution</p> <p>Engels’ words regarding the “withering away” of the state are so widely known, they are often quoted, and so clearly reveal the essence of the customary adaptation of Marxism to opportunism that we must deal with them in detail. We shall quote the whole argument from which they are taken.</p> <blockquote><p><em>“The proletariat seizes from state power and turns the means of production into state property to begin with. But thereby it abolishes itself as the proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, and abolishes also the state as state. Society thus far, operating amid class antagonisms, needed the state, that is, an organization of the particular exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited class in the conditions of oppression determined by the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom or bondage, wage-labor). The state was the official representative of society as a whole, its concentration in a visible corporation. But it was this only insofar as it was the state of that class which itself represented, for its own time, society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, of the feudal nobility; in our own time, of the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection, as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon the present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from this struggle, are removed, nothing more remains to be held in subjection — nothing necessitating a special coercive force, a state. The first act by which the state really comes forward as the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — is also its last independent act as a state. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies down of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The state is not ’abolished’. It withers away. This gives the measure of the value of the phrase ’a free people’s state’, both as to its justifiable use for a long time from an agitational point of view, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency; and also of the so-called anarchists’ demand that the state be abolished overnight." (Herr Eugen Duhring’s Revolution in Science [Anti-Duhring], pp.301-03, third German edition.)</em></p></blockquote> <p>It is safe to say that of this argument of Engels’, which is so remarkably rich in ideas, only one point has become an integral part of socialist thought among modern socialist parties, namely, that according to Marx that state “withers away” — as distinct from the anarchist doctrine of the “abolition” of the state. To prune Marxism to such an extent means reducing it to opportunism, for this “interpretation” only leaves a vague notion of a slow, even, gradual change, of absence of leaps and storms, of absence of revolution. The current, widespread, popular, if one may say so, conception of the “withering away” of the state undoubtedly means obscuring, if not repudiating, revolution.</p> <p>Such an “interpretation”, however, is the crudest distortion of Marxism, advantageous only to the bourgeoisie. In point of theory, it is based on disregard for the most important circumstances and considerations indicated in, say, Engels’ “summary” argument we have just quoted in full.</p> <p>In the first place, at the very outset of his argument, Engels says that, in seizing state power, the proletariat thereby “abolishes the state as state". It is not done to ponder over the meaning of this. Generally, it is either ignored altogether, or is considered to be something in the nature of “Hegelian weakness” on Engels’ part. As a matter of fact, however, these words briefly express the experience of one of the greatest proletarian revolutions, the Paris Commune of 1871, of which we shall speak in greater detail in its proper place. As a matter of fact, Engels speaks here of the proletariat revolution “abolishing” the bourgeois state, while the words about the state withering away refer to the remnants of the proletarian state after the socialist revolution. According to Engels, the bourgeois state does not “wither away”, but is “abolished” by the proletariat in the course of the revolution. What withers away after this revolution is the proletarian state or semi-state.</p> <p>Secondly, the state is a “special coercive force". Engels gives this splendid and extremely profound definition here with the utmost lucidity. And from it follows that the “special coercive force” for the suppression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, of millions of working people by handfuls of the rich, must be replaced by a “special coercive force” for the suppression of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat (the dictatorship of the proletariat). This is precisely what is meant by “abolition of the state as state". This is precisely the “act” of taking possession of the means of production in the name of society. And it is self-evident that such a replacement of one (bourgeois) “special force” by another (proletarian) “special force” cannot possibly take place in the form of “withering away".</p> <p>Thirdly, in speaking of the state “withering away”, and the even more graphic and colorful “dying down of itself”, Engels refers quite clearly and definitely to the period after “the state has taken possession of the means of production in the name of the whole of society”, that is, after the socialist revolution. We all know that the political form of the “state” at that time is the most complete democracy. But it never enters the head of any of the opportunists, who shamelessly distort Marxism, that Engels is consequently speaking here of democracy “dying down of itself”, or “withering away". This seems very strange at first sight. But it is “incomprehensible” only to those who have not thought about democracy also being a state and, consequently, also disappearing when the state disappears. Revolution alone can “abolish” the bourgeois state. The state in general, i.e., the most complete democracy, can only “wither away".</p> <p>Fourthly, after formulating his famous proposition that “the state withers away”, Engels at once explains specifically that this proposition is directed against both the opportunists and the anarchists. In doing this, Engels puts in the forefront that conclusion, drawn from the proposition that “the state withers away”, which is directed against the opportunists.</p> <p>One can wager that out of every 10,000 persons who have read or heard about the “withering away” of the state, 9,990 are completely unaware, or do not remember, that Engels directed his conclusions from that proposition not against anarchists alone. And of the remaining 10, probably nine do not know the meaning of a “free people’s state” or why an attack on this slogan means an attack on opportunists. This is how history is written! This is how a great revolutionary teaching is imperceptibly falsified and adapted to prevailing philistinism. The conclusion directed against the anarchists has been repeated thousands of times; it has been vulgarized, and rammed into people’s heads in the shallowest form, and has acquired the strength of a prejudice, whereas the conclusion directed against the opportunists has been obscured and “forgotten”!</p> <p>The “free people’s state” was a programme demand and a catchword current among the German Social-Democrats in the seventies. This catchword is devoid of all political content except that it describes the concept of democracy in a pompous philistine fashion. Insofar as it hinted in a legally permissible manner at a democratic republic, Engels was prepared to “justify” its use “for a time” from an agitational point of view. But it was an opportunist catchword, for it amounted to nothing more than prettifying bourgeois democracy, and was also a failure to understand the socialist criticism of the state in general. We are in favor of a democratic republic as the best form of state for the proletariat under capitalism. But we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of the people even in the most democratic bourgeois republic. Furthermore, every state is a “special force” for the suppression of the oppressed class. Consequently, every state is not “free” and not a “people’s state". Marx and Engels explained this repeatedly to their party comrades in the seventies.</p> <p>Fifthly, the same work of Engels’, whose arguments about the withering away of the state everyone remembers, also contains an argument of the significance of violent revolution. Engels’ historical analysis of its role becomes a veritable panegyric on violent revolution. This, “no one remembers". It is not done in modern socialist parties to talk or even think about the significance of this idea, and it plays no part whatever in their daily propaganda and agitation among the people. And yet it is inseparably bound up with the ”withering away” of the state into one harmonious whole.</p> <p>Here is Engels’ argument:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“...That force, however, plays yet another role [other than that of a diabolical power] in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with a new one, that it is the instrument with which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilized political forms — of this there is not a word in Herr Duhring. It is only with sighs and groans that he admits the possibility that force will perhaps be necessary for the overthrow of an economy based on exploitation — unfortunately, because all use of force demoralizes, he says, the person who uses it. And this in Germany, where a violent collision — which may, after all, be forced on the people — would at least have the advantage of wiping out the servility which has penetrated the nation’s mentality following the humiliation of the Thirty Years’ War. And this person’s mode of thought — dull, insipid, and impotent — presumes to impose itself on the most revolutionary party that history has ever known! (p.193, third German edition, Part II, end of Chap.IV)</em></p></blockquote> <p>How can this panegyric on violent revolution, which Engels insistently brought to the attention of the German Social-Democrats between 1878 and 1894, i.e., right up to the time of his death, be combined with the theory of the “withering away” of the state to form a single theory?</p> <p>Usually the two are combined by means of eclecticism, by an unprincipled or sophistic selection made arbitrarily (or to please the powers that be) of first one, then another argument, and in 99 cases out of 100, if not more, it is the idea of the “withering away” that is placed in the forefront. Dialectics are replaced by eclecticism — this is the most usual, the most wide-spread practice to be met with in present-day official Social-Democratic literature in relation to Marxism. This sort of substitution is, of course, nothing new; it was observed even in the history of classical Greek philosophy. In falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics is the easiest way of deceiving the people. It gives an illusory satisfaction; it seems to take into account all sides of the process, all trends of development, all the conflicting influences, and so forth, whereas in reality it provides no integral and revolutionary conception of the process of social development at all.</p> <p>We have already said above, and shall show more fully later, that the theory of Marx and Engels of the inevitability of a violent revolution refers to the bourgeois state. The latter cannot be superseded by the proletarian state (the dictatorship of the proletariat) through the process of ”withering away”, but, as a general rule, only through a violent revolution. The panegyric Engels sang in its honor, and which fully corresponds to Marx’s repeated statements (see the concluding passages of The Poverty of Philosophy and the Communist Manifesto, with their proud and open proclamation of the inevitability of a violent revolution; see what Marx wrote nearly 30 years later, in criticizing the Gotha Programme of 1875, when he mercilessly castigated the opportunist character of that programme) — this panegyric is by no means a mere “impulse”, a mere declamation or a polemical sally. The necessity of systematically imbuing the masses with this and precisely this view of violent revolution lies at the root of the entire theory of Marx and Engels. The betrayal of their theory by the now prevailing social-chauvinist and Kautskyite trends expresses itself strikingly in both these trends ignoring such propaganda and agitation.</p> <p>The supersession of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution. The abolition of the proletarian state, i.e., of the state in general, is impossible except through the process of “withering away".</p> <p>A detailed and concrete elaboration of these views was given by Marx and Engels when they studied each particular revolutionary situation, when they analyzed the lessons of the experience of each particular revolution. We shall now pass to this, undoubtedly the most important, part of their theory.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Socialism Communism Lenin Socialism The state Mon, 22 Apr 2019 01:16:46 +0000 Fight Back 7381 at